Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Itachi
Type: One-shot (Complete)
Word Count: 4821
Theme: LJ Community, 50-shinobi theme #08, Hokage
Rating: T (Contains content not suitable for children)
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.
Summary: Sometimes, the hardest part of love is letting go. But then again, sometimes it holds on so tightly that you wouldn't need to, after all.
Chapter Last Revised on: 29/12/07
Today was the proudest moment in the life of the Rokudaime Hokage.
Today was the day his long awaited dream would finally come true.
I'm going to be Hokage! Believe it!
Today was the happiest day of his life. He had always believed that when he became the most powerful nin in the village everyone would have no choice but to acknowledge his existence but now…
Now he realized that it was his journey to the top that had earned him their acknowledgement.
And now he had their support.
"Naruto-kun, are you ready to greet the public?" The sweet, gentle voice of his beloved chimed from behind him in the empty Kage office.
The handsome blonde turned and smile softly at his Hinata. She had believed in him even when they were Genins—he had just never realized it then. He did now; and more than appreciated her faith in him.
Hinata started to flush bright pink when Naruto turned fully to look at her. Her lanky golden-haired, blue-eyed fiancé was so devastatingly handsome in his formal Kage robes that it was all she could do not to revert to her childhood habit and fall into a dead faint. Naruto had given her so much confidence over the years; Hinata liked to think that she had now become a kunoichi worthy enough to stand proudly by his side.
The Rokudaime's foxy face broke into a boyish grin as he eyed Hinata's embarrassment. Striding over to his love, he proceeded to give her an exuberant hug which made her squeak and a cheek rub against her own softly flushed cheek. He smiled goofily at her, and she could not help but smile back.
"Yeah, I'm more than ready." The blonde's voice was deep and sure, no longer squeaky and high-pitched from childhood. Blue eyes turned wistful. "I have waited for this day for so long…"
It had been a long, arduous journey up to here—and among all the laughter and happiness and comradeship, there had been so much blood and tears as well. Pain.
Hinata's pale, silvery eyes darkened slightly. Her arms came up slowly to give him a hug.
"Today is your day, Naruto-kun." Her soft voice was surprisingly fierce. "You deserve this more than anybody else in the world; you have finally brought peace to Konoha and have protected us so many times."
Eyes filled with love for him, she whispered. "It is us who should be honored to have you as our Kage."
Naruto smiled but the liquid glint in his eyes told her how much he had been affected by her words. He hugged her tightly, nearly crushing her ribs in his affection but she did not mind.
"Thank you, Hinata-chan." He croaked. He was indeed a lucky son of a bitch, to have someone like her loving him as much as she did.
Hinata's gentle lavender eyes softened.
"We should go now, Naruto-kun. Let's not keep our friends waiting."
The elegant long-haired Hyuuga heiress and the handsome, dynamic blonde Hokage made a truly beautiful picture when they emerged from the large office. Their closest friends who were all gathered at the lobby started to clap and whoop in congratulations when the couple came into sight. Tsunade, Jiraiya, Kakashi-sensei, Yamato, the sand siblings and the rest of the Konoha Twelve were all among the large group of ninjas present.
From a corner, Sakura smiled as well-wishers surrounded her loud blonde friend. Expecting that something like this would happen, she had spoken to Naruto a few days ago and had given him her own congrats in advance. The pink-haired kunoichi was only here today to show her support for her friend and now that the official inauguration was over, it was time to leave.
Naruto would understand why she left; and he wouldn't blame her.
None of them would.
Noiselessly, she slipped away from the happy racket and slowly made her way down the Hokage tower. Now that she was alone again, the slightly melancholic glint in her eyes dropped completely to be filled by utter sadness. She hugged herself lightly as she descended the long, winding stairs. If she strained her ears hard enough, she could hear the happy cheers and merrymaking that resounded across the streets of Konoha.
It made her feel lonelier than ever.
The kunoichi finally reached the ground floor of the tower. It was already night time but the celebrations were just getting into full swing. It was also a cool autumn night, and Sakura zipped herself up into her jacket before preparing to exit the building.
The smooth tenor was so achingly familiar that Sakura stiffened. Despite herself, pain flashed across her face for the briefest of moment before she quickly composed herself and turned to face the source of the sound.
Tousled, spiky raven hair. Smooth pale complexion. Arrogant obsidian eyes. Cold, detached demeanor.
He was more like his brother than he would ever know.
"Sasuke." She whispered.
The Avenger had finally returned home after achieving his one goal in life. Naruto had been there when he killed Itachi, and so had Sakura. The blonde had to drag the younger Uchiha back after the intense battle of course, and Sakura—
"Where are you going?" Dark onyx eyes all but drilled holes into hers and it was all she could do not to look away. His gaze was so reminiscent of another—
"I'm tired. I'm going home." The beautiful kunoichi answered. It was the truth. She was so very tired. Everywhere she looked, everywhere she went, everything reminded her of—
Without waiting for a reaction from the taller male, Sakura started to walk out of the Hokage Tower, hands shoved into pockets as the chilly autumn night washed past her and breezed through her hair. The light footsteps that fell in behind her told her that he had decided to follow her, much to her distress. He was the last thing she needed today.
Sakura wondered if he had picked up on the fact that she had been avoiding him ever since they returned to Konoha after that fateful fight. If he did he hid it very well.
In a matter of a few long strides, the last Uchiha came abreast of her and easily kept pace with her
"I will see you home."
His voice brooked for no arguments and so Sakura offered none. The short walk to her apartment was made in silence despite the crowds of people all around them. Sakura was in no mood to make small talk and Sasuke never talked much in the first place. The tall male was dressed in Uchiha colors; the dark blue shirt with the distinct red and white fan imprinted on the back as well as long black pants. His hands were stuck casually into his pockets and he made such a handsome picture that the fangirls of the past would have swooned if they saw him.
But those days were long over.
The last Uchiha was in disgrace now. Once the tragic survivor of a once great clan, he was now the ostracized outsider, despised for turning his back on the country that he had been born in, for betraying the people who had once thought so highly of him. If not for the unyielding stance of the Rokudaime and by extension the group of most powerful shinobis within and outside the Leaf who were most loyal to the Kyuubi Jinchuriki, the village council would have forcefully extracted Sasuke's seed from him and then have him executed straightaway. As such he was only grounded within Konoha for an indeterminate period of time; it was a rather light slap on the wrist compared to the high treason that he had willingly committed years ago.
Of course Sakura and Naruto stood by their fallen friend no matter what anybody else said, and for Sasuke that was nearly enough. It was obvious to anyone with a brain that the last Uchiha would never truly be anywhere near normal in terms of sanity, but with his friends around they would pull him back if he went too far.
However the dynamics within Team Seven had shifted no matter how hard they all tried to pretend that it didn't. Whereas Naruto could easily return to being best friends with Sasuke as if nothing had happened, Sakura simply could not. The trust was no longer there; and after what Sasuke had done there were times that Sakura could not even bear to lay eyes on him.
The kunoichi hated herself for feeling this way.
This was never supposed to happen, but it had.
As clichéd as it sounds, she had went and fallen in love with someone she had no business falling in love with.
And now she was suffering for her weakness.
A small gasp escaped from Sakura's lips as she was accidentally jostled by a drunken villager. She stumbled to the side and felt her feet tripping against each other. Before she could even brace herself for the fall, Sasuke caught her easily.
Large hands that settled around her waist righted her immediately. Sasuke didn't remove them right away, however. They lingered on the soft curve of her side, and emerald eyes widened.
Before she knew it she was already moving; quickly dancing away from his hold and murmuring her gratitude for his unexpected helpfulness. Once upon a time she would have been contented to stay within the circle of his arms. However, that time had long since come and gone. Her thoughts were occupied by another now, and her heart no longer Sasuke's to keep.
He looked at her with unreadable eyes, and instinctively hunching into herself the pink-haired female started to walk quickly once again. They reached the entrance of her apartment within fifteen minutes. He stood and watched as she fumbled with her keys before pushing the correct one into the lock. Sakura opened the door, and then she looked at him.
"Would you like to come in for a little while, Sasuke?" It was only polite, after all. Sakura didn't think that he would accept her invitation.
To her surprise he did.
Soundlessly, the last Uchiha slipped past her and across the threshold of her cozy little home. It was not much or very extravagant, but everything within it was purchased or provided by Sakura's own means and she was most proud of that fact.
Hanging her keys in the key holder by her door, Sakura proceeded to shrug out of her bulky jacket before walking over to the closet to keep the outer apparel.
She was most disconcerted to see him staring intently at her when she was done storing her clothes.
"Take a seat, Sasuke; I will go make some coffee for us."
Dressed in white pants and a red long sleeved shirt, the kunoichi started to move towards her tiny kitchenette.
"There is no need." His abrupt reply was so very Sasuke-esque. "I'm not planning to stay for long."
With that said the Uchiha stalked over to her couch and proceeded to sit casually on it. He appeared broody and seemingly bored and nonchalant as usual, but Sakura could see the tensed set of his shoulders and the way his eyes kept moving about, cataloguing everything in sight and storing the relevant information as he saw fit. Thanks to his unusual circumstances, Sasuke was more paranoid that even Morino Ibiki of the ANBU Interrogation Force. His suspicion and mistrust was probably going to stay with him for the rest of his life.
Slowly, Sakura made her way to the loveseat opposite the sofa that he was occupying, and sank quietly onto the soft surface.
Onyx eyes looked into hers immediately, dark and probing. Sakura cringed inwardly. Just staring into those pair of eyes hurt her. The pink-haired female held his gaze for as long as she could manage it before she looked down onto her hands.
"Sakura." His voice was blank and apathetic, as if he was about to discuss the weather. "Are you alright?"
She did not blame him for his tone. Sasuke wasn't known for being affectionate. After all the ways that he had been warped and emotionally scarred, Sakura really didn't think that he was capable of showing affection.
But it was obvious that he still cared for her as a teammate. He wouldn't be here if he didn't.
Or maybe he was just feeling guilty.
Guilty that she was the latest—and last person to be caught in the feud—and hurt by the cruel games of his deceased brother.
Sakura nodded her head immediately.
"Yeah. There is nothing wrong with me."
The silence that echoed after her quick reply was condemning.
Liar, liar, liar.
Onyx eyes narrowed slightly.
"You have not been acting normal ever since we got you back from Itachi." Now that Itachi was dead, the intense hatred that the last Uchiha felt for his brother had subsided a lot. His revenge had given him some semblance of peace, after all.
Sakura could not help but let out a small, bitter laugh. What did he know about normal?
"Normal?" The pink-haired kunoichi whispered cynically. "How do you define 'normal'? That I would revert to the weak little girl that I had once been when we were twelve? That I would resume chasing after you like a featherbrained little fangirl, pretending that nothing had ever happened?"
She had been hurting ever since they returned from the utterly destroyed Akatsuki hideout; she was still hurting now, and she was lashing out blindly in a futile effort to ease the pain.
He must have understood what she was experiencing; for he took no offense at her sharp words. Hesitantly, as if he had no idea what to do, the Uchiha got up from his seat and moved towards her.
She stared at him with dark emerald eyes.
He stood awkwardly before her. Almost seven months ago, his bastard of a brother had kidnapped Sakura in an effort to lure out himself and Naruto. It was only four months later that they had managed to locate the Akatsuki hideout and by then Sasuke was sure that Itachi had hurt the pink-haired kunoichi in numerous ways that he would probably never know or comprehend. Now it was almost three months after his brother was defeated but for as far as he knew, Sakura had never truly recovered from the ordeal. The vivacious and cheerfully violent young woman was now withdrawn and skittish, her beautiful verdant gaze sad and broken.
"My brother—I'm sorry for my brother."
He was apologizing for all the wrong reasons—worst of all she could not blame him for what he had done. His goal had been what had kept him alive for all these years and she knew from the very beginning that this was what would happen in the end. Sakura's face crumpled and it was all she could do to bite back a soft sob of distress. She turned away from him immediately.
"I don't want you to see me like this. Please leave, Sasuke."
With a long stride, he was but inches before her. The Uchiha crouched down before the beautiful kunoichi and took her face in his hands. Pristine, crystalline tears were leaking most pitifully from her shimmering eyes and down pale, milky cheeks.
"I can make it up to you." His voice was hesitant at first, and then became surer as his speech resumed to normal. "Whatever my brother did to you; I will make it up to you."
Sakura could only stare at him. What was he trying to say?
Then his thumb caressed the soft curve of her cheek with such gentleness, and she froze completely. He was so near that she could feel his hot breath on her skin. Stunned, Sakura could not move as he edged even closer, his lips almost touching her silky flesh.
"I will make you forget about him."
The kunoichi reared back immediately with a gasp and tried to push the younger Uchiha away. Sasuke did not budge; dark eyes burning with something that was starting to alarm Sakura, she quickly edged back into the loveseat.
"S-Sasuke!" Her voice was sharp. "What do you think you are doing?!"
His gaze was unrepentant.
"What happened to you was partly my responsibility. Itachi would never have gone after you if not for your connection to me."
Sakura flinched at his flat voice.
"You have been disgraced by an Uchiha. I will make it up to you."
His eyes pierced into hers.
He would never expect Sakura's reaction to be so explosive.
The sound of hand meeting cheek was loud as it echoed across the room.
"How dare you."
Her whisper was so fierce that his eyes widened slightly.
Sakura's fingers clenched tightly into themselves. Hard, glittering emerald met his gaze with such wild pride that it made him draw a deep breath.
"Sakura-" He tried to let her understand that he meant no harm. She cut him off viciously before he could even start.
"Don't insult me." The pink-haired kunoichi bit out. She was shaking slightly from her volatile emotions. "I don't need your pity, Sasuke."
Onyx eyes darkened.
"I do not pity you." His voice was almost harsh in his admittance and Sakura paused. She watched him, waiting for him to continue. Sasuke hesitated almost nervously, then continued.
His dark, beautiful eyes stared straight into hers, willing her to understand.
"I…care for you."
The last Uchiha took her hand into his. Covered her smaller fist with his larger one and curling callused fingers over it. She did not resist.
"It wasn't supposed to happen; Itachi was not supposed to take you."
Edging closer to the unmoving form of the beautiful female, Sasuke was near enough to press his mouth against the elegant curve of her cheekbone.
"You were supposed to be mine."
Sakura stiffened as if shot.
But Sasuke was not done yet.
Kneeling by her side now, the handsome male leaned in closer and started to trail his lips down the line of her jaw, the sensitive skin by her ear, the milky column of her neck. Sakura did not respond to his sensual ministrations, but neither did she push him away.
She closed her eyes.
If she could not see anything, she could almost pretend that it was him…
Large hands rested themselves on the soft curve of her waist. A large, muscular body pressed closer to hers, radiating hot heat and delicious warmth. It was so achingly familiar that Sakura's breath hitched.
Her hands came up to rest upon his broad shoulders before she could contain herself, and unconsciously her breathing deepened to inhale his scent better.
A muffled sound escaped the male in her arms.
"I will wash his taint off you."
Emerald eyes flew open immediately.
This was not right.
Sasuke was not him.
The male she was holding now was not lean and lanky like the one she was used to curling up against; he was stockier and most muscular.
He smelled of sandalwood; not like the bittersweet scent of rainwater that she had grown to love so much.
Sasuke was not Itachi.
And if being touched by the elder Uchiha would mean that she was tainted; Sakura never wanted to be pure again.
This would never work.
She would never be able to pretend that she was with one brother while in the arms of the other.
And Itachi was gone.
Tears slipped soundlessly from blanked emerald eyes.
Before anything could happen, she pushed the other male away firmly and resolutely.
Sasuke stared at her with confusion in his eyes.
The beautiful female shook her head.
"No, Sasuke." She stared at him with such a sad gaze that he could not help but be affected by her grief. "You deserve better than me."
Something within onyx eyes shifted; but it happened so quickly that it was gone before she could decipher what it meant.
"It doesn't matter to me, Sakura." The raven-haired male replied immediately. "You love me, don't you? You have always proclaimed your love for me even when we were Genins."
If possible, Sakura's eyes became sadder.
"I can only…love you as a teammate now, Sasuke."
Her eventual reply was a shock to his senses. His eyes widened when the full meaning of her words finally registered across his mind.
Almost immediately, the stunned surprise narrowed and changed into something darker. Something very dangerous.
"Who is he?" The soft, lethal growl made Sakura's instincts go off but the pink-haired female did not back away from the furious young man. She closed her eyes briefly; Sasuke have to know. Even if she didn't tell him now he would find out himself—eventually.
She could only hope that he wouldn't see this as a betrayal.
The truth must have been written in her eyes when she opened them again; for he seemed to know the very moment her emerald orbs met his.
He stiffened, and for the shortest of moments he could only look at her with something akin to disbelief on his face.
Then the killing intent that roiled off him was so intense and concentrated it was all Sakura could do to continue to breath properly. She did not look away from him though; this was what she deserved for hurting him like this. Maybe he would kill her tonight, and Sakura knew in her heart that she would not do a thing to defend herself.
"It's my brother, isn't it?" His voice was strangely calm. "You are in love with Itachi."
There was no point in denying the truth. The pink-haired female nodded slowly.
"I won't apologize for loving your brother." Her voice was steady. "But you had the right to know; that's why I'm telling you now."
Dark onyx stared into her own turbulent orbs.
"Why?" He asked. "Have you depended on him so long as a captive that you have developed-"
"It's not Stockholm Syndrome." Sakura cut him off quietly. "I knew from the very beginning what I was getting into. I know that he was only making use of me and although I had feelings for him I was not stupid enough to think that my affections would be reciprocated."
"But you still love him."
She looked at him quietly.
There was no hesitation in her demeanor, no shame, no apology.
Dark eyes burned into hers.
"You are a fool."
His voice was dark with contempt. She did not flinch.
A small, bittersweet smile appeared on her lips.
"I know, but I would have done anything to be with him again."
He stared at her for a long time.
His voice was not as deep as it was a minute ago, and she frowned with incomprehension she watched him.
Something was changing…
"What…?" She asked as she looked him over.
Was it her eyes, or was his image wavering?
He did not take his eyes away from hers. Then right before her, he dropped the forbidden Kinjutsu.
The spiky dark hair was the first to change, becoming smoother, longer, glossier. Then his face was next. The cheekbones became more pronounced, the nose sharper, the eyes more exotically tilted, the lips thin. The stocky, muscular form shifted as well; became taller, lankier. His scent changed; clean rainwater instead of musky sandalwood.
Despite herself, Sakura started to cry when she realized just what was happening. It was almost three months since she had last seen him. Her fingers shook badly as she raised them to his face. They met warm flesh. He was real.
It was impossible. She had seen him die.
Before she could stop herself, small, slender fingers were running wonderingly all over his face; caressing his cheeks, touching his lips, his nose. He let her, and the tears fell even harder.
If this was a dream she never wanted to wake up.
It was really him, and it didn't matter that he was never one for overt shows of affections; the moment she ascertained his authenticity she slid off the couch and threw herself into his arms.
He caught her; and held her so close to him that Sakura could not seem to stop crying no matter how she tried. Her arms wrapped themselves tightly around his neck and he let her wet his shirt with her tears.
It was almost ten minutes before she could calm down.
Then she pulled back slightly and looked at him with dark, accusing eyes.
"You," She growled huskily. "Are supposed to be dead."
He was not intimidated by her disgruntlement.
"And you are supposed to forget about me." He retorted calmly, his voice reverted back to being soft and lilting again.
Pain flashed across her eyes.
"I…couldn't…" Her voice was bewildered and hurt, as if she didn't understand it herself. "I just couldn't."
His eyes darkened.
He had never intended to come here to look for her either. As much as he wanted to believe that it was curiosity that had prompted him to check on her; he knew better than to delude himself. She had touched a part of him that no one had access to before, and it was only when she had been forcefully taken away from him that he had realized the flaw in his perfect plan.
And so he had come back for her.
"How…did you survive?" Her eyes searched his for an answer. She had watched as Naruto and Sasuke each drove the Rasengan and the Chidori into his body, had heard the sickening sound of chakra tearing into flesh and organs, had watched him die. Her teammates had thought that her unstopping flow of tears then had been from happiness, but they were wrong.
It had been for him.
He merely looked at her.
"It doesn't matter now."
He wasn't going to tell her until he was good and ready; it was something that she had learnt about him when she was with him. Sakura didn't really care about the 'how' anyway, he was alive and that was enough for her.
"You were testing me earlier." Her voice was slightly accusing. She had been so emotionally broken earlier on and it was amazing just how his mere presence could take away the almost physical pain that she had been feeling for the past months.
He was not at all apologetic at assuming his younger brother's identity. Sakura would never know, but Sasuke had truly cared for her in his own way. The Kinjutsu wouldn't have picked up on the other Uchiha's affections for the pink-haired female and acted so intimate with her if it wasn't so.
Instead, his beautiful eyes darkened slightly with displeasure.
"You were reckless to reveal your emotions thusly. Sasuke would not have hesitated to kill you if he had known the truth."
Sakura merely shook her head slowly.
"I will not lie to Sasuke. Not about this." She looked at him steadily. "And I wouldn't be able to stay within his arms and pretend that he was you."
The Uchiha stared at her for a very long time.
Then he spoke.
"Leave with me."
It wasn't a request, it wasn't a question, it wasn't even an invitation. It was a command, pure and simple and for once the normally strong willed and fiercely independent female was not offended by it. In fact, she was dangerously close to tearing up again.
If she agreed to this she would probably never see Konoha again, but somehow the idea wasn't as scary or as appalling as she had imagined it to be. Now that the Akatsuki had been destroyed, peace was returning to Konoha once more and all her friends and loved ones were happy and content. Even Sasuke had made peace with his past and as long as the brothers never met again Sakura didn't think that the younger Uchiha would realize the truth.
Would it be selfish of her to leave thusly?
But would it be selfish of her to want a little bit of happiness for herself?
Sakura didn't think so.
For some reason he could make her happy; being by his side gave her a sort of freedom that she had never imagined possible and she loved it. He was her pair of wings, and with him she was home. Sakura never wanted to be lost and wandering about in a limbo ever again.
And he was offering her a chance; a safe harbor from the stormy world out there.
Sakura smiled through her tears. Tentatively, the pink-haired kunoichi reached up and touched her lips against the side of his cheek. Onyx eyes darkened.
She pulled back slightly to look him in the eye. Despite the tears, her face was radiant.
Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:
According to Wikipedia, Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger (or at least risk) in which the hostage has been placed.
A Kinjutsu is a forbidden technique that is too dangerous or forbidden for any normal ninja to use. Naruto's Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu is one such example. And yes, the Kinjutsu that Itachi had used in this one shot was completely made up by me.
This is the first time that I am writing about Sasuke (not counting Icha Icha because of excessive crack factor), so if I completely skewed his character accidentally, my apologies.
Your reviews fuel my passion for writing. So please leave a comment if you like this fic, thank you.